John Robertson accounted for four touchdowns to lead Villanova past Penn, 35-6. (AP)
VILLANOVA, Pa. -- A field-goal block returned for a touchdown in the opening quarter gave Villanova all the momentum it needed to roll to a 35-6 victory over Penn and hand head coach Andy Talley his 200th win at the helm of the Wildcats' program.
John Robertson hit wide receiver Joe Price for a 15-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Penn followed with its best series of the half -- a 14-play, 60-yard drive that culminated in a 37-yard field goal attempt. But Villanova's Rakim Cox got a hand on it and Craig James found the loose ball and dashed 73 yards for the score to put the Wildcats up, 14-0.
Robertson threw for 266 yards, 216 of which came in the first half alone, and ran for 132 more. He accounted for four touchdowns -- three passing, one rushing. Receiver Poppy Livers had a career day with eight catches for 121 yards and his first two receiving touchdowns.
Conner Scott pulled in 11 passes for Penn and totaled 129 yards. The Quakers' running game was non-existent -- they gained just 20 yards on 30 carries. They had two runs longer than four yards.
The 29-point margin of victory was the largest in the series since Villanova won by 31 in 1980.
Villanova outgained Penn on the ground, 280-20. Overall, the Wildcats racked up 546 yards of offense to Penn's 299.
Robertson had a field day. He accounted for 398 yards combined through the air and on the ground. Livers, the junior wideout, had the best game of his collegiate career to date. Kevin Monangai ran for 101 yards on 17 carries.
Fifth-year senior Billy Ragone finished his career 0-5 against Villanova and had a day to match it. The lefty passer completed 18 of 35 passes for 192 yards, a touchdown and an interception. After Scott, Ryan Mitchell was Penn's next most-productive receiver with three receptions for 48 yards.
Spencer Kulcsar took the ball to the house from nine yards out on a screen pass from Ragone for Penn's lone touchdown.
Villanova forced three interceptions with Penn threatening to score.
Corey Reeder picked off Ryan Becker's pass at the Wildcats' 34-yard line in the second quarter. Joe Sarnese intercepted Ragone at the back of the end zone with the Quakers closing in on a score at the 'Nova 15. Sardese grabbed another off Becker in the end zone early in the fourth.
Penn's defensive unit allowed two 100-yard rushers for the first time in Al Bagnoli's 22-year tenure.
Villanova's blocked field goal provided the momentum that sealed the win for the Wildcats, but they didn't look especially good on special teams other than that.
Twice, Livers chose to forgo a fair catch and allowed Penn punts to pin Villanova deep in its own territory. The Wildcats started three drives in a row at their own 10-, 9- and 1-yard line, respectively, to end the first half.
Connor Loftus had a night to forget. In addition to the blocked field goal, he missed an extra point for the first time in 42 attempts.
No. 200 for Talley
Talley became the 37th coach in college football history to win 200 games with one school.
Talley, who has helmed the Wildcats since 1985, has accumulated an overall record of 200-122-1 with the program and led Villanova to 21 winning seasons, 10 playoff appearances, six conference titles and the 2009 national championship in 29 years.
Villanova won its 13th straight over Penn. The Wildcats now lead the all-time series, 13-5, but the Quakers haven't won a game since 1911. The schools have met annually since 2004.
Villanova resumes its CAA schedule next Saturday, when it hosts William & Mary. The Wildcats have dropped their last two against the Tribe.
Penn embarks on its quest to defend its Ivy League crown when it opens conference play next Saturday against Dartmouth at Franklin Field. The Quakers own a five-game winning streak over the Big Green.